London theater announces 2012-13 slate

A slew of world preems including a tuner from Steven Sater and Duncan Sheik (“Spring Awakening”) and a play by Alan Bennett (“The History Boys”) form part of the National Theater’s notably adventurous 2012-13 slate announced by a.d. Nicholas Hytner.

Sater and Sheik’s rock tuner “Alice at Heart” is one of 10 commissions for its annual “Connections” program of plays for young people. One hundred eighty young theater companies across the U.K. and Ireland will mount productions of the new plays in their home venues and at 20 youth theater festivals with partner regional theaters; one example of each play is then performed at the NT in June. A further 20 plays are being commissioned for the program over the next two years.

Hytner refused to supply details of Bennett’s new play “People,” which he will direct for an October opening. He did reveal, however, that it is “funny” and would feature possibly 16 actors.

Other world preems include “The Last of the Haussmans,” a play about a woman for whom the 1960s never died, by debuting actor-turned-scribe Stephen Beresford. It will star Julie Walters, Rory Kinnear (Hytner’s recent “Hamlet”) and Helen McCrory (“Hugo”), and is helmed by Howard Davies.

Rising star Jeremy Herrin makes his NT debut helming the world preem of “This House,” James Graham’s new play about parliamentary concerns, and Lucy Prebble (“Enron”) will make her NT debut with a new, as-yet-untitled play helmed by Rupert Goold in a co-production with his touring company Headlong.

Following the success of previous page-to-stage adaptations of books including “War Horse” — which has thus far netted the NT £10 million ($15.6 million) profit all ploughed back into the organization — the latter show’s helmer Marianne Elliott returns with Simon Stephens’ adaptation of Mark Haddon’s runaway bestseller “The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time.” The cast of the show, about an autistic teen detective, includes Una Stubbs (BBC’s “Sherlock”), Nicola Walker and Luke Treadaway, the original Albert in “War Horse.”

Richard Bean, who adapted Carlo Goldoni’s 1743 comedy “The Servant of Two Masters” into the Broadway-bound smash “One Man, Two Guvnors,” will pen a stage version of Alexandre Dumas’s classic “The Count of Monte Cristo.” Playing in the NT’s prestigious, grand-scale Christmas/family show slot, it will be helmed by Timothy Sheader, a.d. of Regent’s Park Open Air Theater, in his NT debut.

The theater will also host the U.K. preem of Lisa D’Amour’s “Detroit.” Austin Pendleton, helmer of the play’s original production at Chicago’s Steppenwolf will direct a new London cast, opening May 15. In addition, Cillian Murphy will reprise his acclaimed solo turn in the London preem of Enda Walsh’s “Misterman” opening Apr. 18.

The NT’s 2012 Travelex season, offering just under half the tickets in the 1,129-seat Olivier for £12 ($19) each, opens May 30 with Sophocles’ “Antigone” in a version by Don Taylor helmed by Polly Findlay. In July, Hytner will helm Shakespeare’s “Timon of Athens” starring Simon Russell Beale as Timon, and the following year he will direct “Othello” with Adrian Lester in the title role with Rory Kinnear as Iago.

Other classic revivals include Tirso de Molina’s Spanish Golden Age tragedy “Damned for Despair” in a version by Frank McGuinness directed by Bijan Sheibani, Antony Sher in the title role of Adrian Noble’s revival of “The Captain of Kopenick” by Carl Zuckmayer, the Austrian playwright banned by the Nazis, and Nadia Fall’s production of Bernard Shaw’s “The Doctor’s Dilemma.”

Looking forward to 2014, a bullish Hytner anticipated that NT productions on its three home stages, plus West End, Broadway, international transfers and tours plus live movie screenings worldwide would see annual ticket sales top 3 million.

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